It was August of 1986 and I was so excited. That was the big day. I was to go school supply shopping for the first day of the first grade at Lincoln Elementary School in Albany, Georgia. Entering the the first grade is a big enough deal, I guess, but what I was really ecstatic about was going school supply shopping with my Mom and my older sister, Katie. Like most younger sisters, I wanted everything my older sister had. In her posession was a notebook that had the best graphics of the Smurfs on the front, held all of her “big girl” school assignments, and even had individual pockets for super secret things like notes to friends about boys. (Don’t tell Katie I knew about those pockets, please.)
That’s right, you’ve guessed that I have just described the most awesome school supply of the 80’s and 90’s….the Trapper Keeper. I didn’t have one in kindergarten, but first grade was the year for me to have my very own Trapper Keeper. I can still hear the Velcro as it noisily secured my school work. The hardest decision was whether to go with the kitten graphic or the Smurfs. I’m fairly certain I chose kittens. You could tell plenty about a student by their Trapper Keeper. What was her personality like? Was he organized? Was she playful or more serious about her work? You could usually tell by the picture on the front of the Keeper. For instance…did its owner choose a realistic graphic of an atom splitting or a humorous one like Scooby Doo?
Sadly, the Trapper Keeper as we knew it is no more. And why is the death of the Trapper Keeper relevant today? Well, as a teacher, I miss them. They have been replaced by all sorts of cool electronic devices. These devices range from laptops to iPads and from Kindles to Nooks. These tools are fantastic, but I find them lacking in human appeal. The coolest kitten-decorated iPad hard covers cannot compare to the plastic front of the trapper keepers of yore. Hearing children type does not have the same effect as the sound of pages turning and erasers doing their work. I know that technology is important. I just miss my kitten-covered Trapper Keeper. Maybe there is a way that I can bring them back into my classroom. After all, learning to keep an organizational device like a binder and agenda provides physical reinforcement or organizational skills. Surely I can find one if I use my laptop or iPad to Google “Trapper Keeper.”